Angela Merkel’s days as German chancellor are now numbered – at less than 15 – after the three parties which emerged victorious from September’s election have agreed to form a centre-left government set to take office around December 6, party leaders said on Wednesday.
Finance Olaf Scholz, whose Social Democrats (SPD), came out on top in the quadrennial Bundestag elections on September 27 with over 25 per cent of the vote, will succeed Merkel at the head of a first-ever three-way coalition at the national level, made up of the pro-environment Greens party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).
Further details from leaders of the three parties were scheduled to be released at a news conference in Berlin later on Wednesday.
Scholz will become Germany’s tenth post-war chancellor and fourth from the centre-left SPD after Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder. Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) have been the country’s dominant post-war party, ruling for the last 16 years and 32 of the last 39 years.
The three parties agreed in detailed negotiations that formally began a month ago to make fighting climate change a centerpiece of the new government following a campaign where that overshadowed the coronavirus crisis and other issues.
Greens party co-leader Annalena Baerbock will be Germany’s next foreign minister, FDP leader Christian Lindner will succeed Scholz at the pivotal Finance Ministry post and Greens co-leader Robert Habeck will become Environment Minister.
The talks were shrouded in secrecy for the last four weeks and unlike previous coalition negotiations there were hardly any details that leaked out of the talks – a possible harbinger that the three-party coalition could break from countless other traditions.
The absence of any leaks until Wednesday was quite an accomplishment considering there were a total of 22 working groups created with a total of about 300 party leaders involved.
But after the announcement on Wednesday morning that the deal had been completed overnight, German TV station ARD reported that the coalition agreed to lift the country’s percentage of renewable energy to 80% by 2030 from about 40% currently and switch off all its coal-burning power plants by 2030, eight years sooner than previously planned.